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Rudolf Steiner

The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls in relation to Teutonic Mythology

Authorised Translation Edited by H. Collison

Published 1929


The five main races of mankind.

12th June, 1910 (morning)

As you may imagine, it is a very complicated matter, when the Spirits of the different hierarchies have so to work together with their forces that the mission of the earth can be fulfilled; when they have so to work that finally a state of equilibrium comes about. Hence you will understand also, that statements such as those made in our last lecture can only be made when one takes a quite definite period in evolution, and that the whole presentation is immediately altered if one considers evolution at another period. Hence also, if you wish to arrive at a complete understanding of these very complicated matters you must always take one course of lectures in connection with the others.

I shall here draw attention to one point, and it should be taken as a sort of annotation. In the equilibrium of our earth the whole co-operation of the hierarchies is such, that we must look at what we described in our last lecture as the third hierarchy, the Spirits of Will, the Cherubim and Seraphim, as being something which, as regards this state of equilibrium, works from within the earth. You must naturally picture to yourselves this hierarchy as originally unfolding its powers from out of the universe towards the centre of the earth, and that the way in which man becomes aware of these forces does not correspond to their first direction, but the reverse direction they take when they are thrown back, reflected.

You will therefore only be able to form a complete idea of the very intimate processes which here take place, if you compare what was said in the last lecture with much that was said in my course of lectures given at Düsseldorf on the Hierarchies, in which a comprehensive idea was given of the heavenly part of the activity of the three hierarchies. These things are by no means so simple, and, to make the mission of the earth comprehensible, it is necessary to select the point of view in such a way that we may see the reflections of the Spirits of these hierarchies in what we call the elements of earth-existence.

But if you take this into consideration, you will then also acquire a feeling of the infinite wisdom contained in the whole harmony of the forces of the universe, in the forces of the cosmos. You will also to a certain extent have the feeling that knowledge must be continually extended, that there must be no limit to it, as things are so complicated that when we think we have grasped one point of view, we are immediately compelled to pass on to another, which then throws light on the matter from another aspect. We can only advance little by little in our knowledge; nevertheless, from the indications given in the last lecture, especially at the close, you will have become somewhat more closely acquainted with what may be called the cooperation of the abnormal and the normal Spirits of Form, which brings about in our life on earth that there should be not merely one kind of humanity spread over the whole earth, but that a humanity might arise which can be manifested in the different races. For that uniform humanity, which man can only attain to again in the course of the evolution of the earth, the pure activity of the normal Spirits of Form would have been necessary. These are the same spiritual Beings who in Genesis are called the Elohim, and we can really recognize seven of these normal Spirits of Form in the entire universe which surrounds our earth and together with it makes one whole.

There are seven Spirits of Form or seven Elohim. If we wish to form a conception of these seven with their various missions, and their vocation of establishing equilibrium or Love in the whole mission of the earth, we must clearly understand that these seven Spirits of Form so co-operate that what we have described in one of these lectures as ` man in the second third of his life' would actually be brought about. Thus if all these seven Spirits of Form could work in the way they have proposed among themselves, the essential ` I '-man would express himself. But as other spiritual Beings co-operate with them, and vary this uniform humanity, a quite special arrangement was necessary in the cosmos. If to-day you wished to seek in the cosmos the locality from whence the normal Spirits of Form are active, those Beings who, as described in our last lecture, in our present cosmos shine towards us in the light, then you must seek for them in the Sun. You must always seek in the direction of the Sun for that Cosmic Lodge, that community in the universe, in which these Spirits of Form take counsel together for the establishing of the earthly equilibrium, for the fulfillment of the mission of the earth. One thing only was necessary so that the abnormal Spirits of Form should not by their activity produce too much disorder as far as man is concerned; it was necessary that one of the Spirits of Form should detach Himself from the community; so that, in reality, you have only to look for six Spirits of Form or Elohim in the direction of the Sun, one of these Spirits had to isolate Himself, in order that through

the simultaneous activity of the abnormal Spirits of Form, who are really Spirits of Motion, the equilibrium should not be completely upset. He it was Who in the Bible, in Genesis, is called Jahve or Jehovah. If you wish to look for His activity in the universe, you must not seek for it in the direction of Sun, but in that in which Moon for the time being is to be found. This is also indicated in my Occult Science, although looked at there from another aspect, when it is shown that the Spirits of Form go away with the separation of Sun, but that only in the special arrangement that took place in the separation of Moon, were the preliminary conditions created for the further evolution of man. For if Moon had remained united with Earth, the evolution of man could not have taken place. This further evolution of man was only made possible through one of the Elohim, Jahve, going forth with Moon, while the other six Spirits remained in Sun; it was only made possible through Jahve's co-operative work with His six other companions.

Now it may be asked: Why was Sun split off at all ? That was necessary for the following reasons : As soon as certain older Spirits of Motion who possess greater power than the Spirits of Form, for they stand higher in the rank of the hierarchies-had decided to remain behind, the normal Spirits of Form had to weaken their activity by splitting off one of themselves. They would not otherwise have been able to bring about the equilibrium requisite for further evolution.

If we want to obtain a satisfactory conception of the activities of these normal Spirits of Form, it is best to think of them as streaming down to us in the sunlight. But if we want to obtain an idea of the abnormal Spirits of Form, and of how they act in combination with the normal Spirits of Form, who are centered in Sun as it were (for it was only in order that the equilibrium could be brought about that Jehovah split off towards Moon); then we must imagine that a certain sun-force, which streams towards us in the normal Spirits of Form, is altered by the force that streams to us from the abnormal Spirits of Form, who are really Spirits of Motion. These have their centre in the other five planets, speaking of the planets in the old way. You must therefore seek for the centre of these others, the abnormal Spirits of Form, in Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury.

You have now, when you look into the cosmos, a sort of distribution of the normal and the abnormal Spirits of Form. Six of the normal Spirits of Form are centered in Sun, one of them-Jahve or Jehovah-forms the equilibrium for them from Moon, by ruling and guiding the latter. The activities of this Spirit of Form are influenced by the activities proceeding from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury. These forces stream down upon Earth, are stemmed there and ray up again from Earth, as was described at the close of our last lecture.

Thus if you have a part of Earth's surface upon which a certain activity is exercised from the Sun by the Elohim or normal Spirits of Form, then nothing would come into existence on that particular part of the Earth's surface but the entirely normal ' I ', that which gives man his normal being, which produces the average general human nature. Now into these forces of the Spirits of Form, which through the state of equilibrium would otherwise dance here upon the surface, are intermingled the forces of Mercury. Hence in that which here unfolds as the force of the Spirits of Form, there dances and vibrates not only the normal, but also that which intermingles in the normal forces of the Elohim, in the normal forces of the Spirits of Form, that namely, which comes from the abnormal Spirits of Form who are centered in the several planets. From this we see, that through these abnormal Spirits of Form, there are five possible centers of influence, and these, in their reflection upon humanity from the centre of the Earth, really produce what we know as the five root-races who inhabit the Earth.

If we now more closely characterize the spot which in our recent statements we placed in Africa, by saying, that through the co-operation of the normal Spirits of Form with the abnormal ones centered in Mercury, the negro race came into existence, we are then, from an occult standpoint, quite correct in describing what appears in the black race, as the ' Mercury race '.

Let us now follow on further along the line which we then drew through the central points from which the several races sprang. We then come to Asia and find there the Venus-race or the Malay race. We then pass on across the wide domain of Asia and in the Mongolian race we find the Mars-race. We then pass over into the domain of Europe and we find in the Europeans, in their basic character, in their racial character, the Jupiter men. If we cross over the ocean to America, where the place is at which the races or civilizations die, we then find the race of the dark Saturn, the original American-Indian race, the American race. The American-Indian race is the Saturn race.

In this way, if occultly you picture this matter more and more clearly, you find in these five planets the forces which have experienced their external manifestations in these five parts of the world.

If you form a more and more distinct and concrete conception of this, you will acquire an inner knowledge of these unique racial characters which are spread over the Earth, a knowledge of this peculiar co-operation of the normal and abnormal Spirits of Form. Thus we have, as it were, drawn the picture which holds good for a certain point. But what I have said about the different parts of the Earth, again only holds good for a quite definite epoch of evolution. It holds good for the epoch when, at a definite moment of the old Atlantean evolution, the migration of peoples started from a spot in Atlantis and wandered across to the right place where they could receive the corresponding racial cultivation. Hence in my Occult Science you will find it pointed out that in old Atlantis, in certain Mystery Places, named the Atlantean Oracles, the guidance of this distribution of mankind over the Earth was taken in hand, so that in fact that equilibrium, that state of balance could be brought about which led to the corresponding distribution of the races. In one such Mystery-Oracle the truths of which we are now speaking were always investigated, and originally man was entirely guided by them. In this manner, what happened on the Earth was correspondingly directed from such centers.

In the stream of peoples that traveled across Africa and crystallized into the Ethiopian race, we have to look for an impulse which could be given by the Mercury-oracle, in which one could clearly observe how the normal Spirits of Form, (the six Elohim and Jahve or Jehovah) co-operated, and how the abnormal Spirits of Form whose activities proceeded from the centre of Mercury also worked in. According to the astrological co-operation of these various centers of force, the point of equilibrium was sought for on our Earth, and in accordance with this the centre of balance was taken as the point of radiation for the race in question.

The formation of the other races was also directed in a similar way. In accordance with this, the great map is then drawn, into which are entered the influences with respect to peoples, families, etc. That is the great map, which is an image of the heavenly activity which originates through the forces of the heavenly powers flowing into man, radiating back from him, and forming his destiny. What may we now consider a man of the Mercury race, of the Ethiopian race as being? We may so look upon him that we say: This man is originally destined and organized by the Elohim to express in himself the whole human nature. But now from the Mercury centre the abnormal Spirits of Form worked with great power and caused man to be so varied that the form of the Ethiopian race arose; and it was the same with each of the other races. Thereby the streams of the peoples were guided in quite a definite way from the original centre, and thus the line which I drew for you a few days ago originated.

You must therefore imagine the Spirits of Form radiating from a centre. We have to suppose this centre as being at a definite period of time in old Atlantis. There we have that which sank down into the Atlantean continent and shaped it in such a way that the human spirits were brought under the ruler ship of the corresponding abnormal Spirits of Form.

Thus were the great foundations of the races created, and when man looks up into the infinite expanses of the heavens, he must there seek the forces which constitute him. They constitute him however in their rays which return from the Earth. When he looks up to the normal Spirits of Form, to the Elohim, he is looking up to that which really makes him into man; and when he looks up to what is centered in the several Planetary Spirits (with the exception of the Sun and Moon), he sees that which makes him belong to a particular race.

Now how do these Race-spirits work in and upon man? They work in a very unique way, so that, as one might say, they excite his forces first of all when they reach the physical body. You know that what we call the four fundamental parts of man, are projected and imaged in certain parts of the physical body, so that we may say, the ' I' images itself in the blood; the astral body in the nervous system ; the etheric or life-body in the glandular system, and only the physical body stands for itself, it is an image of its own being, and for the man of the present day it has all its laws within itself. The ' I ' reflects itself in the blood, the astral body in the nervous system, the etheric body in the glandular system.

Those spiritual Beings, who there seethe and boil in man so that his racial character may come about, cannot at first work directly into his higher parts. They seethe first of all in these images of the higher parts in the physical body. They cannot as yet enter right into the physical body, but they seethe in the other three members, in that which is the image of the ' I', the blood; in the image of the astral body, the nervous system; and in that which is the image of the etheric body, the glandular system. In these three systems, which belong to the physical body but are reflections of the higher members, the Race-spirits, the abnormal Spirits of Form.

Here you see that the physical body of man is determined from within; so that these various spiritual Beings set to work in those parts of the physical body which are the projections, the shadows of the higher members. Now where for instance does Mercury set to work? I say Mercury, so as to include all the abnormal Spirits of Form to be found in Mercury. He intervenes by co-operating with others, especially in the glandular system. He seethes in the glandular system, and there are expressed the forces which originate through that preponderance of the Mercury forces, which work in the Ethiopian race. Everything which gives the Ethiopian race its special characteristics comes from the fact that the Mercury forces seethe and surge in the glandular system of this people. What modifies the universal human form into the special form of the Ethiopian race with black skin and woolly hair and so on, is the result of their activity. This modification of the common human form comes therefore from these forces.

If you now pass further over to Asia, you find there in a similar manner something we might describe as Venus forces, as an abnormal development of the Spirits of Form. These Venus forces operate by attacking principally that which we call the reflection of the astral body, the nervous system. They operate however in a peculiar way, and indeed not directly as Venus-spirits upon the nervous system. For the nervous system can be affected in two indirect ways; one way is through the respiration. When the breathing is specially worked upon, these activities establish themselves in man's respiratory and nervous system, and give it a definite form. This indirect way is selected by the abnormal Spirits of Form whom we may call Venus Beings, in the Malay race, in the yellow tinted races of Southern Asia, and towards the Malay Archipelago. Just as the glandular type of man is spread over the land of Ethiopia, so over these parts of Malaya there is spread the type of man in whom the abnormal Spirits of Form work upon the nervous system indirectly through the respiratory system. There the nervous system is worked upon indirectly through the respiratory system. In the nervous system is brewed that which, with special modifications, produces the more or less yellow-colored part of humanity. The transformation there brought about, certainly expresses itself more in that part of the nervous system which we sum up in the expression ' Solar Plexus', therefore not really in the higher nervous system but in that mysterious part of the nervous system which runs in two strands parallel with the spinal marrow and spreads out in various directions. This part of the nervous system, therefore, is worked upon indirectly through the respiratory system, this part which in our sense does not yet belong to the higher mental activity. These Venus-forces which work in this race, seethe deep down in the unconscious organism.

Now let us go up over the wide Mongolian plains. In those plains those Spirits of Form are principally active who work indirectly through the blood. There in the blood is brewed that which brings about a modification of humanity and produces the basic character of the race. There is, however, something very peculiar in this Mongolian race. There the Mars-spirits enter the blood : But they work in it in quite a definite way, viz., they are there able to work towards the six Elohim who are centered in the Sun. In the Mongolian race, therefore, they work towards these six Elohim, and in doing so they make a special attack in the other direction towards Jahve or Jehovah Who has separated His field of action from that of the six Elohim.

But besides this co-operation of the Mars-spirits with the six Elohim and Jahve, which results in the Mongolian race, there is still something quite special. Just as the six Elohim from the Sun and Jahve from the Moon act upon the Mongolians, whilst the Mars-spirits work towards them, so in another case we must imagine that from the direction of the Moon the Jahve forces again meet and co-operate with the Mars-spirits, and that thus a special modification arises. Here you have a special modification of humanity, viz., that which belongs to the Semitic race, explained from its. most occult background. In the Semites you have a modification of collective humanity, in which Jahve or Jehovah shuts Himself off from the other Elohim and invests this people with a special character, by co-operating with the Spirits of Mars, in order to bring about the special modification of this people.

You will now perceive the special element contained in the Semitic people and its mission. In a certain deep occult sense the writer of the Bible was able to say, that Jahve or Jehovah had made this people His own, and when to this you add the fact that there was here a co-operation with the Mars-spirits who direct their attacks chiefly upon the blood, then you will also comprehend why the continuous action of the blood from generation to generation was of quite special importance to the Semitic Hebrew people, and why the God Jahve describes Himself in the Semitic people as the God Who comes down in the blood from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and so on. That is the important thing : how the blood runs through all these generations. By describing Himself as ' I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob', Jehovah says : ' I act in your blood'. That which always works in the blood, that which must be fought out in the blood,-the co-operation with the Mars-spirits,-that is one of the mysteries which lead us deeply into the wise guidance of the entire humanity of the Earth.

So you see, that the blood of mankind is acted upon in a twofold manner; that two races originate, by the blood of mankind being acted upon; on the one side we have that which we call the Mongolian race, on the other that which we may describe as belonging to the Semitic race. That is a great polarity in humanity, and we shall have to trace much that is of immense importance back to this polarity, if we wish to understand the depths of the Folk-souls.

We shall now go back still further and trace how the Spirits and Beings who have their centre in Jupiter seethe and boil in man. These select for themselves the second point of attack, so as to act indirectly upon the nervous system. The one point of attack is through the senses of man; the other point of attack which works into the nervous system, goes indirectly through the respiratory system into the solar plexus. The attack proceeding from Jupiter goes indirectly through the sense-impressions and streams out from thence upon those portions of the nervous system which are centered in the brain and spinal cord. Here flow in, in those races belonging to the Jupiter humanity, those forces which give the special stamp to the racial character. This is more or less the case in the Aryans, in the peoples of Asia Minor and Europe, those whom we reckon as belonging to the Caucasian race. In these arises that modification of universal humanity which comes from the abnormal Spirits of Form whom we may describe as Jupiter Spirits, working upon the senses. The Caucasians therefore are determined through the senses.

Now you will also understand that a people like the Greeks, who were quite specially and consciously under the influence of Jupiter or Zeus, who felt themselves to be a centre for the Zeus influence, were pre-eminently determined by what flows into the nervous system through the senses. Of course the Greeks were also influenced by the Elohim who stream in from Sun. But the case was such, that among the Greeks everything that acts upon the senses was devoted to the influence of Jupiter or Zeus, and by that means this people attained its greatness. Everything the Greeks saw in the way of external form, external life, contained important meanings for them. They saw the spiritual in their perceptions of the physical, and hence became the basic people for all sculpture, for all external form-giving. This indicates a very special mission of the Greek people, who are so eminently the people of Jupiter or Zeus, who even at the time when,-especially through the entrance of the star-constellation,-the co-operation of the Zeus or Jupiter-forces with the universal Elohim-forces took place, felt themselves to be the people of Zeus.

All the peoples of Asia Minor and especially the European peoples, are on the whole modifications of this Jupiter influence, and you may now divine that, as man has many senses, many modifications can come about, and that in the formation of the several peoples within this basic race which were formed by the senses working upon the nervous system, one or other of the senses may have the mastery. Through this the various peoples may assume different forms. According as the eye or the ear or one of the other senses has the upper hand, so will the different peoples be determined in this or that direction for the special national tendency within the racial character. Through this they get quite definite tasks. One task, which specially devolves upon the Caucasian race is, that it is to tread the path to the spiritual through the senses, for it is built especially upon the senses.

Herein lies something that leads one into the deeper starting-points of occultism and it will show you that in those peoples whose sign, so to speak, lies in the Venus-character, the principal starting-point, even in occult training, must be made where the breathing is the most important thing. On the other hand in the peoples living more to the West, the starting-point of their deepening and spiritualizing must be taken from what is in the sense world. This is possessed by peoples who occupy countries more towards the West, in their stages of higher cognition, in imagination, inspiration and intuition, in accordance with the way in which the Jupiter-spirit originally modified the character.

Hence there were always these two centers in the evolution of humanity, the one ruled more by the Spirits of Venus, and the other ruled more by the Spirits of Jupiter. The Spirits of Jupiter were specially observed in those Mysteries in which-as those of you will know who took part in my course of lectures at Munich last year-the three Individualities met together, the three spiritual Beings, Buddha, Zarathustra or Zarathas in his later incarnation, and that great leader of humanity whom we describe by the name of Skythianos. That is the Council which, under the guidance of One still greater, set itself the task of investigating into the mysterious forces which must be developed for the evolution of humanity, whose starting-point was taken from that part which is originally connected with the Jupiter forces and which was preordained in the map of the Earth already mentioned.

Finally, what we may describe as the abnormal Spirits of Form who have their centre in Saturn, act upon the glandular system, but in a roundabout way through all the other systems. Therefore in all that we must describe as the Saturn-race, in everything to which we must attribute the Saturn-character, we must look for something which draws together and embraces that which leads again to the evening twilight of humanity, whose development brings humanity in a certain way to a real conclusion, to a dying away. The expression of this action on the glandular system is seen in the American-Indian race. From that action comes its mortality, its disappearance. The Saturn influence acts through all the other systems finally upon the glandular system. It separates out the hardest parts of man, and we may therefore say that this dying-out consists in a sort of ossification, and this may also clearly be seen in the outer form.

If you look at the pictures of the old American Indians, the process above described is palpable in the decline of this race. In a race such as this, everything which existed in the Saturn-evolution is now present in them, and that in a special manner; it has withdrawn into itself and left man alone with his hard bone system, and brought him into decline. One feels something of this truly occult activity, if one observes how, even in the nineteenth century, a representative of these old Indians speaks of how in him there dwells what formerly was great and mighty for man, but which could not possibly go along with further evolution. There is in existence a description of a beautiful scene, in which a leader of these Indians who are dying out, confronts a European invader.

Imagine what is felt in the heart when two such men confront each other, men who came across from Europe, and men who in the earliest ages, when the races were divided, went over to the West. The Indians then took over with them to the West all that was great in the Atlantean culture. What was the greatest thing of all to the Indian? It was that he was still able dimly to sense something of the ancient greatness and majesty of a period which existed in the old Atlantean epoch, in which the division of the races had hardly begun, in which men could look up to the Sun and perceive the Spirits of Form penetrating through a sea of mist. Through an ocean of mist the Atlantean gazed up at that which to him was not divided into six or seven, but which acted together. This co-operative activity of the seven Spirits of Form was called by the Atlanteans the Great Spirit who revealed himself to man in ancient Atlantis. The Atlantean had not taken into himself all that the Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter Spirits brought about in the East, through which were developed all the civilizations which reached their zenith in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century. In all this the son of the brown race did not participate. He clung firmly to the Great Spirit of the primeval past. That which the others had done, those who in a primeval past had also received the Great Spirit, passed before his eyes when a paper was laid before him on which were many little signs, letters, of which he understood nothing. All that was foreign to him, but in his soul he still had the Great Spirit. His speech has been preserved to us; it is worthy of note because it points to what we have explained, and it runs somewhat as follows : ` There, in the ground upon which walk the conquerors of our country, the bones of my brothers are buried. Why are the feet of our conquerors allowed to walk over the graves of my brothers ? Because they are in possession of that which makes the white man great. The brown man is made great by something else; he is made great by the Great Spirit, Who speaks to him in the sighing of the wind, in the rustling of the forest, in the surging of the waves, in the gurgling of the spring, in thunder and lightning! That is the Spirit Who to us speaks truth. Oh, the Great Spirit speaks truth ! Your Spirits, whom you have here on paper, and who express what to you is great, they do not speak truth.' Thus spoke the Indian Chief, from his point of view. The brown man belongs to the Great Spirit; the pale man belongs to the spirits who, in black shapes, as little dwarflike beings-he meant the letters-hop about on the paper and who do not speak the truth. That is a world-historic dialogue, which was carried on between the conquerors and the last of the great Chiefs of the brown men. Here we see what belongs to Saturn and his activity, and what originates on the earth from his co-operation with other Spirits, at such a moment as this, when two different directions meet.

Thus we have seen how humanity in general was brought to the surface of our Earth by the Elohim or the normal Spirits of Form, how then the five principal races of human evolution lift themselves out of the collective mass of mankind, out of the ocean of humanity, and how these five races are connected with the guiding Spirits belonging to the ranks of the abnormal Spirits of Form whom we must call by the names which we take from the live planets, whereas the normal Spirits of Form are to be sought for in the Sun and in the Moon. From this point we shall proceed further, and pass on to something that will be easier to us, because we shall be connecting on to something familiar to us, namely, to tribes and peoples.

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